Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Film Review
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely Cast: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders Runtime: 136 mins
Chris Evans recently mentioned at the LA premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier that Marvel had “cracked the code” when it came to their films. He’s got that right. Captain America: The Winter Soldier pushes the Marvel Universe in the right direction, and more importantly gives the Cap the sequel he deserves.
The film picks up after the events in New York, where we find Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) adjusting to a life in Washington, D.C., still struggling to fit into modern day society. When a S.H.E.I.L.D. colleague comes under attack, the Cap is dragged into a world of conspiracy and confusion, with the enemy lurking at every turn. He teams up with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and new ally Falcon (Anthony Mackie) to take on the rising global threat, only to face a new, deadly enemy: the Winter Soldier.
Captain America: The First Avenger established the Cap’s past rather well, giving him the solid foundation required to build his character. However, as a film, it didn’t create a similar impact on the audience as other Phase 1 films did, especially when compared to the first Iron Man. The film was very story-heavy, and the old-school setting did not necessarily provide an opportunity for the Captain and his abilities to shine through. The Winter Soldier is quite the opposite. Here you have a great contrast between the old-school Captain America and modern day, technology driven society, letting his character standout from the chaos that ensues in the background. In addition, the film solidifies the foundation created by the first film, presenting to the audience a grounded character who defines the happenings within the film, letting him be a true Captain.
Performances within this film are pretty memorable. Chris Evans has become comfortable portraying Captain America, embracing his character fully, both physically and mentally. Compared to the previous two appearances, Evans delivers a more mature, sound Cap in this sequel, letting his characters leadership abilities present themselves. The Winter Soldier, often described as the negative Captain America, is a refreshing new villain in the film, even if his capacity in the film is smaller than expected. It’s great to see Sebastian Stan return to the Marvel Universe, and his Winter Soldier is equally welcomed, giving another complexity the Captain must deal with. Scarlett Johansson takes another step towards creating an incredibly complex character with Black Widow, keeping the sharp and lethal characteristics we have become accustomed to in previous films, but continuously layering emotions that have yet to present themselves in their fullest; perhaps a solo film? It was pretty cool to see Falcon being added to the film, with Anthony Mackie delivering a sophisticated performance. He wasn’t thrown into the mix randomly, but given a rather great entrance, built up from the start of the film. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury, and frankly, there is nothing much else to say. The only character and performance that didn’t make as big of an impact was Robert Redford’s. He is a brilliant actor, without a doubt, but his performance didn’t hit you as awesome or great. It was a vital part of the film, but more could have been achieved.
The film is crafted rather well, primarily due to sophisticated direction. You are on the edge of your seat as events in the film unfold, gripping it during the intense action sequences. The choreographed fight scenes are complex, even when they just involve two people during hand to hand combat. The one issue with the film is not necessarily the film itself but the technology used. 3D is great and has worked for many Marvel films before this. In this film though, with the incredibly fast action sequences, a 3D image didn’t add any value. Sometimes it became annoying, because your eyes are constantly trying to keep up with the moving object. It didn’t take away from the film, but it didn’t add anything either. You wouldn’t be at a loss if you didn’t see it in 3D.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the sequel many fans of the Cap have been waiting for. It gives the character an opportunity to truly become who he is and establish himself as a vital part of the Marvel Universe. It follows the footsteps of Iron Man 3 (and the general trend we are seeing with Phase 2) with large changes, giving an opportunity for the Marvel Universe to continuously evolve, and open doors to new storylines and new characters.